Friday, November 18, 2011

Sarasota Opera Announces Latest Youth Opera Commission and Co-Production

Sarasota Opera proudly announced at a press conference on Tuesday, November 15th, its latest commission for the Sarasota Youth Opera program, Little Nemo in Slumberland, which will have its world premiere in November 2012 as part of Sarasota Opera’s fall season. The new opera draws source material from serial art pioneer Winsor McCay’s comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. The strip is set in the dreams of its title character and features fantasy art that attempts to capture the look and feel of a creative unconscious.

Little Nemo in Slumberland will be a Co-Production with the University of Kentucky Opera Theater and will utilize a new leading edge, innovative theater technology, SCRIBE (Self-Contained Rapidly Integratable Background Environment) that was piloted at the University of Kentucky. This technology, which has been successfully used in productions at the University of Kentucky Opera Theater and Atlanta Opera, will help meet the creative challenge presented by bringing such a fantasy based story to life.

The Creative Team for Little Nemo in Slumberland
Composer: Daron Aric Hagen
Librettist: J.D. McClatchy
Conductor: Steven Osgood
Stage Director: Martha Collins
Scenic Designer: Michael Schweikardt
Costume Designer: Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer: Ken Yunker
Associate Conductor: Jesse Martins

About the Commission and Co-Production:
One of Sarasota Opera’s goals for its Youth Opera Program is to periodically commission a fully realized opera for young people. Sarasota Opera commissioned the two-act, sixty-minute youth opera specifically for the young voices (ages 8 – 18) of its youth Opera Chorus. Recognizing the need to support “youth operas”, the company and the artists agreed to create a work with wider application that would be appropriate, for example, for university undergraduate programs and youth choral groups at other U.S. and Canadian opera companies. The project thus expands the performance opportunities for thousands of young singers.

Composer Daron Hagen Photo by Neil Erickson

Composer Daron Hagen flew in especially for the press conference and spoke about what motivated him to become a part of this project. He explained that at the time he was approached by Mr. McClatchy to compose the music for Little Nemo in Slumberland, he and his wife were expecting and he found himself with the desire to want to enter into the mind of his children to be. “I wanted to enter into Sandy’s (Mr. McClatchy) main image which is a world of dreams and I wanted to create music that expressed the core values of who I am as a person.” The opera took 9 months to compose and another 6 months to complete the orchestration.

“This is a fantastic company with a reputation of being world class”, Mr. Hagen explained when he discussed why he chose to work with Sarasota Opera. “I didn’t want to go on this journey with anyone but the best.”

Based on the recommendation of the composer, Dr. Everett McCorvey, Director of Opera at the University of Kentucky, agreed to partner with Sarasota Opera in the creation of this project.

“This is an ideal partnership as it brings together the best of what our two organizations have to offer in order to see this project through to completion”, says Dr. McCorvey. “It is truly a rare and valuable gift to be able to offer an opera to young people that is specifically designed for developing voices. In addition, to have the capability to be able to partner that with a high quality production to compliment the singers performances is something not readily seen at the University or Youth Opera level.” Dr. McCorvey has plans to make Little Nemo in Slumberland part of University of Kentucky Opera Theater’s 2012 mainstage spring production.

Dr. Everett McCorvey speaking at the Press Conference Tuesday
Image courtesy of Bill Wagy

“To be frank, this is a big deal”, says Executive Director Susan Danis. “We are just beyond thrilled to see this project begin to take form and to be able to offer this incredibly unique opportunity to the dedicated young singers of the Sarasota Youth Opera and the students at the University of Kentucky.”

SCRIBE Technology:

SCRIBE technology is a rear projection system that breaks the overall projection into multiple tiles. An individual projector is responsible for each tile. Each projector emits a tiled portion of the image. The collective display, ultimately, is the entire image rendered in one seamless image on screen. This new technology allows designers to create very large images without sacrificing precious stage space, which can then be given back to performers. Thus far, this technology has only been used by the University of Kentucky Opera Theater and Atlanta Opera.

Technical and design meetings have already begun at both at the University of Kentucky and Sarasota Opera. The music itself will be “work shopped” by University of Kentucky students in the spring/summer of 2012 then finally brought to Sarasota to begin rehearsals with the Youth Opera program. November 2012 will mark the World Premiere performance on the Sarasota Opera stage.

Here are some more images from Tuesday's press conference. All images are courtesy of Bill Wagy.

Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Kretzmer were amongst the audience members on Tuesday.

Composer Daron Hagen speaks to members of the press and special guests.

Librettist J.D. McClatchy and Maestro Victor DeRenzi address the audience.

Sarasota Artists present excerpts from "Little Nemo in Slumberland".

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